In an industry full of chaos, simple songs and recycled melodies it is safe to say, standing out now, is more important than ever. Being part of the industry for over 15 years I've worked with many producers, from Grammy award-winning hitmakers, to the ”fisher price” my first beat composers. Over the years I've found that all DAWs do the same thing. Whether you're using FL Studio or MPC, as long as you understand the general functionality of your program, you can achieve similar results. Each DAW has a different colored sound and some are better suited for specific genres, for instance, if you make hip hop, trap music, it's widely known that FL studios bass translation, the way the 808s hit is incredible. If you take an 808 and run a loop in Ableton Live, then take the same 808 and run the same loop in FL studio, you'll hear a major difference. The bass is deeper, more solid, seems to be able to translate lower note frequencies. But if you're a pop or a live producer (live performances or production) Ableton live might be perfect for you. Some DAWs work for all genres like Pro Tools because it translates sound so exact.
So depending on the type of music you make you may want to choose your DAW accordingly.
Here are a few techniques I've learned and incorporated into my production that have helped me sell thousands of beats and land major placements all over the country.
Create an intro Start your beat with a short intro and your producer tag, your intro should be some sort of snapshot of your beat, consider adding an effect to this part, possibly an automated time warp, or a filter, be sure to keep this part brief, you will decrease your chances of selling the beat if it's too long, also you'll put an automatic strike against any artist who uses it and send their song to an executive... Many of us live by the 15-second rule, If the song doesn't grab us in the first 15, we probably won't even give it another 45 seconds. And many review shows like SMASH 97.7’s Drop it or stop it, only play 1:30 of your song so I can't stress enough how important it is to make this part short and interesting.
Make the beat change up every 4 bars. In music many artists and beginner producers have the misconception that bars only correlates to the words you speak, but bars to composers actually correlates to time. If you turn on your metronome, every 4 clicks is a bar. If you use this method no matter what tempo your beat is, you can always count bars. This is where we as industry pros say to make your beat tell a story. In order to do this, you'd start by taking your first pattern and breaking it down or building it up. Following your intro maybe you start with 90 percent of the beat for the first 4 bars, then add the rest. Depending on how you intend your beat to be written to, this part would either be the first 4 bars of the chorus, or the first 4 of the verse. If it's the chorus it should build up, if it's the verse it should break down. This rule should be continued throughout the entire beat every 4 bars.
Make a clearly different section for your verse The beginning of the verse should always be different from the way the chorus begins and ends, this way the artist can hear where it starts and can write to these changes. You can remove the hi-hats for the first 2 bars then bring them back in, or start with only the 808 and the sample for the first 4 bars then bring more of the beat in at 2 or 4 bar intervals, get creative. Whether your verse is 8, 12, or 16 bars does not matter in the situation as long as it changes up. You should continue to play with the sounds you have in your beat for the entire verse every 4 bars changing something, bringing something in or taking it out. If you're using a sample and on FL Studio, consider running gross beat on the sample for the first 8 bars of the verse so it sounds different here from the chorus, if you're using another DAW, you can use Cableguys Halftime ($10) to warp the sample, it will slow it down, but keep it on tempo, you can achieve many different sounds with these plugins they're great for samples and loops. If you're using midi notes, drop the notes of the chords an octave or bring them up one for rye first 8 bars of the verse. This will add an instantly recognizable transition to your beat for the verse and this is also what you're essentially trying to achieve when you use plugins like Halftime, when using midi you can get cleaner sounding transitions, this is not always what you're looking for, some beats sound cool when they're grittier, or have effects on the melodies making it sound ”lo-fi”. Consider adding an effect to your plugin to create weirder sounding-sounds if you're using midi and that's what the beat needs.
Add a bridge This is the part where you can let your creativity flow out. A great way I like to create bridges is to take my pattern the chorus is on and duplicate it, then take out everything except the snare/clap hi-hats and the sample or main midi call and response. Boom instant bridge, then from the new pattern, you can add a synth bass line that follows the chords of the sample, and add a lead synth, to build it up. You can add an uplifter to the end of the bridge, a snare roll or hi-hat triplet roll the end of it. Bridges with bass lines and extra leads are better suited for the song-songy hip hop records and RnB, gospel, Pop, country and rock music as they tend to soften the feel of the track. Hardcore Hip-Hop/ trap beats can have bridges but never soften the beat with your chords or leads, these beats are where you do the simple instant bridge like I said at the beginning of pointer 4. Accidentally soften your hardcore beats and you’ll never sell any . Be creative as to where you add the bridge, it can come directly after the first verse, or it can come right after the chorus, or it can be half of the chorus, basically you'd be adding a pre-hook section to hour chorus, many artist love this because it makes the beat tell a story so they can write to it.
If you go back and listen to your beat now it's an instrumental. It can much more easily be listened to alone, and is less repetitive thus an artist can listen to it 800 times on repeat so they can write a hit.
Whenever you cook up, make sure you:
make an intro
Add changes every 4 bars
Make the verse different from the chorus
Add a bridge
About the author
Alex Wealth is a producer singer/songwriter, engineer, the CEO of SMASH 97.7 independent record Label Wealth ENT and Flix4k photography Atlanta where he is a published photographer. As well as a radio host for SMASH 97.7s Drop it or stop it. Alex spent many years as a Drum Squad engineer and producer for Grammy award-winning producer Drumma Boy. Alex ”Tru” Wealth’s credits include Mulatto, Solo Lucci, Lil Boosie, Yung Buck , Bando Jones, 1 Playy and many more. Drop it or stop it has had over 25,000 submissions and helped thousands of artists begin to build their sound since 2017. He brings 18 years of experience to his current role of educating the world on how to become a better artist. You can find him on Instagram @iamtruwealth or any other social media.